27 March 2008

Rick Astley is never gonna:

a) give you up
b) let you down
c) run around and desert you
d) make you cry
e) say goodbye
f) tell a lie and hurt you
g) all of the above

No, I promise you're not being rickrolled, guys. But I had to give a nod to Mister Astley, because I wanted to talk about viral videos.

You know the ones - prisoners dancing to MJ's Thriller, Chris Crocker and leprechauns being crackheads and getting hold to the wrong stuff - those videos forwarded to you by coworkers or friends, the ones passed from blog to internet magazine to the local news. Some are funny, some are just wrong, and some involve tigers hugging people!

I love viral videos, folks. They're the best kind of email forward, because they rarely involve anyone telling me they'll pray for me or little .gifs of an American flag. And as I was saving everything on my work computer today as the computer will be taken away from me tomorrow, I came across three viral videos I'd saved and totally forgotten about! (Um, please don't tell on me, people at work. I know I'm not supposed to have non-work stuff saved on my computer.)

My very favorite viral video is the Aicha boy, partly because he reminds me of my cousin Thomas, and partly because I really respect the conviction that must come from shooting a video next to your Minnie Mouse bedsheets. Also, I find the popup text to be extremely helpful in narrating the story of Aicha, because I, too, find myself asking, "she move how?" when people are singing about movement. You should hear me when I'm listening to Patrick Swayze's "She's Like The Wind" (get better soon, Patrick!) - there is a lot of moving of smybolic stuff through the metaphorical trees in that song. And don't even get me started on The Kooks' "She Moves in Her Own Way." Actually, just don't get me started on The Kooks, period.

And if you think I do not know every second of this choreography, and do not perform it along with Gelliman everytime I watch the video, then you don't know me very well, do you?

The second video I found on my hard drive was the Kosovo video! I love the Kosovo video. I know this makes me patently unhip, but "Kokomo" is actually my very favorite Beach Boys song. I know, I know. And yes, I own Pet Sounds. I just can't help it! I always immediately want to run off to vacay on a tropical isle when I hear it. With Kermit as my faithful companion.

The Kosovo video stars a bunch of Norwegian (I believe) soldiers who walk around without shirts on, which is always a plus in my book. And they sing about Milosevic. Plus, it teaches you about current events. Um, current ca. 1998, that is. So it's totally educational as well! Also, I believe this video marks the only time anyone affiliated with the UN ever apologized to Rwanda at all. So how can you not love it? Fact: you can't. You must love it, because it is awesome.

The only thing that would make this video better is if these lads had spent more time working on their choroeography and less time gay-bashing (although I do appreciate the water, boys. I am only human.).

And then, of course, there's the video I always watch when I'm having a bad day: C4's Celeb Swear Words advert. I dunno; there's just something about hearing the word "fuck" 40 times which really soothes me. Of course, I must add that my future-husband-when-he-stops-liking-men, Derren Brown, has the exact same favorite swear word as me. It's FATE, y'all.

Watching these videos, I remembered why I kept them on my hard drive for four years in blatant disregard for my company's IT policy: they really cheer me up. That's the power of a funny minute-long video, that it can completely lift your spirits and put a smile on your face.

So, internets, what's your favorite viral video? Link away in the comments!

26 March 2008

sxsw day 2, or: "you are important. to the parish. npr could not care less about you."

I have been so lazy lately, guys. Also somehow I managed to actually burn off a section of my hair, so I'm going around everywhere wrapped in scarves to cover up my carmelized bangs. My sunglasses of the season are giant, too, so in all I've got a bit of a bored chanteuse effect going on. Not bad, except that people at work are laughing at me. I mean, more than usual.

Okay! Where we last left off, I had spent an enjoyable day wearing silly hats and listening to people from the UK sing country music. What could be in store for our intrepid narrator today?

After an appetizing breakfast of mimosas and . . . well, just mimosas, Courtney and I went downtown and went over to charlieuniformtango to see Mandy!

Hey, Mandy! CUT is in the middle of tons of renovations, as they're now going to be taking over all the floors in their building, so Mandy took us on a tour of the construction zone. We didn't even have to wear hard hats. She showed us where the new editing bays and her new office were going to be. It's going to look even more swanky and uptown than it already does (which is pretty swanky). I can't wait to see it all fixed up, which, let's face it, probably won't be until next sxsw.

Then we went on to the NPR day show at the Parish. I didn't figure it'd be too difficult to get in, despite indie darlings Vampire Weekend playing at four, because we were so early. Um. Wrong.

There was a really long line, guys. I was at the front of it, and it still took us an hour to get in. During this hour, I: texted Sarah and Daniel to see if they were coming over (they did not), listened to this total tool in front of us bore this poor girl about the talk-radio format, and MISSED my Swedish boyfriend Jens Lekman. I was, and am, bereft. OH JENS. Come back soon, okay?

But we did finally get in, in time for Yeasayer. I've had their album for a while, but to be honest, it hadn't really grown on me that much. But they were much better live than I'd expected them to be, so I was glad I caught their show. They have a whole lot of hair, though, I must say.

The next act of the show was a personal favorite of the festival for me: bon iver. I got For Emma, Forever Ago off the recommendation of a friend, and was really blown away by it. But that was nothing compared to seeing him in person, five feet away, and having his haunting voice reverberate throughout the room. He started a singalong for The Wolves Act I and II and I am not ashamed to say I cried, a little.

Also? Beard.

Last up were the big draw for most of the crowd, Vampire Weekend. I was set to talk about how overrated VW are (before I even saw them, cause I am near-Pitchforkian in my cynicism), but to be perfectly honest, I think I've listened to their album about 200 times since I got it. It's just . . . infectious. Also, who doesn't like people who sing about Cape Cod?

I wonder if any of them would be willing to do my taxes for me.

Oh, also: the show had free Shiner and Lone Star, and tiny chopped beef sliders! I could have eaten twelve of them, but stuck to just one. I'd like to say that I'm super-disciplined, but it was only because I had already had about five free beers.

After the party, Courtney and I went to eat some Vietnamese food. I had bun and coffee:

Yes, I draw shapes with my sriracha. You're lucky I didn't draw some lewd pictograph of what I'd like to do with Liam Finn. I am also lucky, because that would be very spicy!

Then we decided to go hang out at the convention center for a while, because our feet hurt. My feet hurt because I was wearing these shoes:

Sparkly, but lacking in arch support.

On the way to the convention center, I was beset by a giant panda:

I hate it when people in giant animal costumes touch me. I have no desire to ever go to DisneyWorld, simply for this reason.

While we were wandering around the convention center, I heard, "Erin! Erin!" It was Leah! She and Daniel were chilling up there as well:

Leah worked up at sxsw all week, because she's super important. It was nice running into them, and I told them to come see popup later if they didn't have anything on their slate. (Note: I found out later that Jens was playing at the same time as popup. Sorry, popup, I'd have gone to stalk Jens if I'd known.)

After meeting Leah's boss (that's him on the left) and hanging for awhile, Courtney and I went over to the Habana Annex to see the aforementioned popup. On the way, a homeless man gave us flowers. And then extorted money from us. Courtney and I are a notoriously soft touch; I'll just let you know now that it's really easy to get money out of us for pretty much any reason. One, we are usually too distracted with talk of gay sex to be aware of our surroundings, and two, we're both so WASPy that we don't know how to say no to a direct request. I'm just letting you know this for the future. Also, it should cut down on muggings, because really all you have to do is ask.

This marks the second sxsw in a row where I have run into members of popup in a bar - last year, I ran into Michael and their manager Alec at the Needles/Metro Riots show on the last night (also, Damo told me the other day that the Needles have broken up, sort of, and that news is basically like a punch in my gut. I love them.) and this year I ran into Nic and Adi at Latitude on the first night. Next year, I expect I'll run into them exactly halfway through the week. (Also, why is it always a bar? Why is it never a street corner or perhaps a charming model village?) So it's a little weird actually GOING to a bar with the expressed purpose of seeing them. I tried to get a photo of all of them together, but see above, in re: free beer. Also Michael likes to turn around and play with his back to the crowd, I guess:

Never fear. You'll be seeing tons of photos of them for day four.

They were, of course, totally fun, as usual, and I even got a song dedicated to me! That's only like the second time that's happened, and the first time that hasn't involved Authentic Gnome VoiceTM and the dedicator trying to snog me in the middle of conversation (i'm looking at you, bgarz). Awesome.

After the show, Courtney and I had to be on to our next adventure, so we walked over to Latitude (I can't help it! British Embassy! Leah's people! Accents!) to see the fantastic Emmy the Great. At first, the people at the door weren't going to let me in, due to my camera, but once I made it clear that there was no way in hell I was leaving my baby out in the car, they relented. Unfortunately this means I didn't get any good photos of Emmy, but never fear! I got plenty the next day, so stay tuned for her absolute cuteness. I wish I'd gotten a shot of her merch, though - she has a totebag with a cat on it and it says "I CAN HAZ EMMY?" That is A+.

Emmy made me a bit melancholy, actually, as her voice was just so lovely that I longed for someone to share it with. Unfortunately, all I could find was Talkative Scottish Photographer, who yakked my ear off for almost an hour about Tilly and the Wall and why every band I like is shit (general consensus was because there were boys in them). Courtney and I had meant to stay for Johnny Flynn, but we had to escape the TSP! So we made a subtle exit ("uh, we have to be . . . somewhere else.") and went over to The Rio, where we ran smack into a long line of douchey MGMT fans.

Don't get me wrong; I wanted to see MGMT too. But I am not a douche. Or if I am, it's a relative douchiness, like, 1 part douche, 3 parts sparkles. These people? Were douches. They worked for The Sun, y'all. I mean, no lie, part of me wanted to be their best friend and ask who they'd choose in a Jordan vs. Jodie Marsh fight to the death, but mostly I just wanted them to shut up, because they were overly posh and obnoxious. It became quickly clear that I, a lowly wristbander, would never get in to the show, so I left Courtney in line and high-tailed it out of there.

I didn't really have a plan, so I decided to just wander around. I ended up over at the Mohawk, where bon iver was once again playing, this time on the outside stage. The line to get in was way too long, but I could hear him perfectly, so I climbed up on some construction barriers and laid down, stared at the hazy sky, and dreamed away for an hour. It was a lovely respite from the bustle of the city.

Courtney texted me to tell me that the crowd at the Rio had cleared out when MGMT left the stage, so I walked back over there to see I Was a Cub Scout and The Pan I Am. IWACS were good fun - they're a band I enjoy a lot without feeling the need to delve any further into them. Pink Squares comes on shuffle; I dance, basically.

The Pan I Am was . . . wow. I still don't have words to describe it, nearly two weeks later. Suffice it to say that it was not what I was expecting from Ed Larrikin (whose last project, Larrikin Love, is probably in my Top Ten Bands of All Time list). He's a lot . . . darker? And, um . . . scarier? And his guitarist may own and operate an S&M dungeon and demand to be known only as The Baron?

After the set, which was super-short at only about 15 minutes long, Courtney went off to the bathroom. When she didn't return after ten minutes, I went to look for her, and of course she was talking to Ed Larrikin backstage (Courtney has this insanely awesome skill of being able to talk to ANYONE. I envy her a lot, because I am actually really shy [I know, it seems like I'm joking], so I tend to clam up and/or go stupid around anyone who isn't a close friend. It causes problems.). And he was totally lovely and not at all like a scary tranny vampire! He was trying to pay another girl two dollars not to see The Pigeon Detectives the next day ("you don't have to go to my show! Just don't go to theirs!") and was demanding high fives and mocking people for having their own thoughts ("oooooh! OWN THOUGHTS!") and I know this doesn't paint a wonderful portrait of him, but he was genuinely lovely and not at all like you'd think he'd be from this:

Appearances (and music. and performance. and inter-song banter) can be deceiving, I guess.

And that was basically it for day two! We're halfway through!

24 March 2008

i want it harder, baby

Ugh. For some reason unbeknownst to me, but probably due to the fact that the place is a craphole, my apartment complex has randomly changed from hard water (good) to soft water (gross). And it's affecting EVERYTHING. I can't even drink the water in my Brita pitcher anymore because it just tastes gross and overly-conditioned. And speaking of gross and over-conditioned, my hair is disgusting. I am sorry, but soft water is just no good, especially if you, like me, are cursed with pretty fine hair to begin with. Now my hair's all gross and limp, like asparagus which has been cooked one minute too long. And it looks like I didn't even bother to shower, which is of course not true. I shower every day! Sometimes several times a day! Showering is at least 7 minutes spent upright and devoted to my personal hygeine, and I want credit for that, damn it!

Luckily, Lush makes a soft water shampoo, so there's help out there. But that will take at least ten days to get here, and what do I do until then?

Also, in news that is upsetting me: a friend of mine (who will remain nameless, so as to save her from gaining internet fame from this story [the internet fame that would come from all ten people who read this]) told me that a certain celebrity in tight trousers who I love and adore was a bit of a charmless bastard to her whilst trying to get her to shag him in the bathroom of a club. I mean, no lie, if I'd been in her place, I'd have shagged him senseless, because A) he's hot and B) I love seedy bathroom hookups as much as the next ex-barfly, but I was sad that he was apparently really intimidating and sort of stroppy about the whole thing. Don't be like that, unnamed celebrity! Be the charming Essex imp we all thought you to be!

21 March 2008

friday's for internet-lovers

Also, as your friday afternoon interweb link, I must say, Dinosaur Comics has been cracking me up even more than usual lately. I suddenly have the desire to condense every song I know into limerick form. ILU T-Rex.

sxsw day one; or, "are you from brooklyn and if so are you Vampire Weekend?"

I think sufficient time has expired between the booze-fueled dance parties of last week and the vague sense of ennui of this week to finally get around to doing my sxsw write-ups. I tend to want to put sxsw behind me every year after it's over; it always seems like a bit of a losing battle to capture exactly how I feel as I wander along the streets I used to call home, catching snippets of flirtations and heartbreak and desperation and always, always, the feel of music pouring out from every corner to cruise along my skin. But then when I don't write it down, I tend to forget it all in a month anyway, so that I can't even remember essential things like exactly what Ginger Fratelli said to me when he was trying his best to woo me. So recaps it is.

Your father's writing me all the time/He says he just wants to say hi/I send him Out of Office Auto Replies.

After thinking that I was going to be the late one (I'm always the late one), it turns out that I got to our hotel a full half-hour before Courtney did. So I waited for her in my car and listened to Jens Lekman singing to Nina about her father. While I was waiting, I studied the other characters in our hotel - there was one who looked just like Donny Tourette who I ended up seeing out and about all week. Sadly it was not actually Donny Tourette, whom I adore for being so fantastically rubbish. Courtney FINALLY showed up, and we proceeded to talk about stalking Russell Brand through the streets of Austin while we got changed. Then we were off to the convention center to pick up Courtney's badge and my wristband. I thought it might be crowded, but check it:

Very few people were in line.

While Courtney was getting her badge, we saw Elijah Wood. He is really short, y'all. I mean, I know that's what everyone says when they first see Elijah Wood in person, but he is RLY short. He is wee. Poqueno. Petite. Pixie-like. However, he totally seemed like an awesome, regular guy - he was getting his badge himself and waiting in line and not pounding away on his iPhone (unlike yours truly, who was totally trying to mobile-blog the fact that I was standing mere inches away from Frodo). Also I found out that his label reps The Apples in Stereo, and I love them. So, in summation, Elijah Wood has it all over my celeb-encounters from last year, who were all douchebuckets.

remember me/honestly i don't/remember who you are

After getting our respective credentials, I dragged Courtney over to the austinist/gothamist party at the Mohawk so that I could see my one true love, Liam Finn, play. We got there a few hours before his set, so I quickly got down to the most essential part of sxsw business:

In case you've never been inside the Mohawk, it looks sort of like this:

Pretentious music snobs come extra.

The first set of the week that we caught was Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, who have sort of a traditional sound which has been given rock sensibilities. I really liked them and when I got home, I instantly legally purchased everything I could find for them. Also, despite being twelve, Johnny Flynn is totes cute:

You can tell from the angle on this shot that I had yet to make it to the front of the stage, but never fear! My powers of persuasion are strong indeed. Also I've learned that after you manage to smuggle in a dSLR without a press pass (srsly, next year? I'm getting a press pass for my camera. I got nothing but grief from the door all week. I even tried to buy one off a photog, but nothing doing.), people seem to think you're a professional photographer and will totally give up their front-row spots to let you get better photos. This worked out well for me all week, actually.

After Johnny Flynn, Phosphorescent came on. I'd never heard of these guys, but it was clear the audience had, because they went nuts for them. There was an inebriated fellow to my right who would clutch the bassist's monitor and sort of sway back and forth to a beat known only to him. Then he would offer up his own vocal interpretation of the song lyrics, punctuated with a lot of "yeah"s and "UH"s. And then he'd use the monitor as a base for pogoing, even though the music of Phosphorescent is not what I would recommend for bouncing up and down.

This is a picture of the lead singer from Phosphorescent:

In case you're invested in BeardWatch '08, I must say that this fellow's beard did not impress me as such. I think it's just a little too crazy. Calm down, buddy, BeardWatch '08 is not a competition (Note: BeardWatch '08 is TOTALLY a competition.); the quality of the beard is more important than the quantity. Let's just tone it down some, okay? And maybe invest in some concealer.

Moving on!

Next up was my number one, can't-miss act and also the man to whom all other men pale in a race for my affections, Mr. Liam Finn. I am not going to continue to go on and on about Liam Finn in this blog, I promise you (liam, call me!), since we've already discussed him, but I did want to show you EJ Barnes's shoes, for they are awesome:

Yes! Red, sparkly Converse All-Stars. Like if Oz had a street basketball team. She told us that she'd gotten them for free, just for singing with Liam, which is probably the second best perk she could get for singing with Liam - the first obvs being that she gets to give him a cuddle whenever she wants.

Right. Moving on from Liam Finn. I mean it. Right . . . now.

in the meantime let me tell you that i love you/buona sera, signorina, kiss me goodnight

Okay. After the show was over, Courtney and I went over to Jamie's, which is just next door, and ate dinner. She had chicken mole and I had verde enchiladas. And, of course, sangria:

Mmm, delicious sangria; nectar of the gods.

After dinner, we wandered over to Antone's for the Domino showcase, but paused on our way to take over a haberdashery:

I really wanted this hat, but it was 70 dollars and Courtney pointed out that I do, in fact, live in Texas and would never need it. But it was so comfy!

On our way over to Antone's, we randomly ran into Dev of Lightspeed Champion doing a stand-up interview for MTV. He talked at length about Vampire Weekend and tried to sell us a joke with the punchline "A-Punk." It was about as terrible as you would imagine. I love Dev, though; I saw him everywhere last week and he was always friendly and happy. All through the interview, this guy standing next to me in a blue-striped sweater was laughing, and then when it wrapped up, he stepped up to talk to Dev:

Why, it is John Norris! That was very strange for me. One just does not expect to run into Skeletor on the streets like that. I mean, I grew up with John Norris. Running into him on the sidewalk outside Antone's would be like if Kurt Loder came to my door to sell my Girl Scout Cookies. It just doesn't seem right.

But John Norris was actually very nice and friendly, and so I almost feel bad about spending most of my formative years writing tortureporn screenplays in which he starred as the evil, scarred villain who is so ashamed of his own terrible visage that he must lift the skin off pretty blonde girls. Almost, but not quite.

We got to Antone's and there was already a line, but we happened to run into some friends there, so we snuck into their spot. Whoever was running the show at Antone's that night was perhaps not well-versed in the whole idea of sxsw, as they didn't open the doors until ten till 8 pm. By that time, the folks with badges were lined up around the block, and I knew there was no way a lowly wristbander like myself could get in. So I hied myself down to the We Dreamed America showcase at Latitude 30, where I'd heard of a grand total of 0 bands performing, but figured there might be English people to chat with.

It actually turned out to be a pretty good choice - the music was all Americana and roots, but for the most part performed by UK people, who definitely had a purer interpretation of the music than their American counterparts would. The highlight of that show were Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, a jump and swing band from London. They're a family band, which is always sort of creepy, but I think maybe it cuts down on the possibility of any Fleetwood Mac-ian shenanigans going on. God, one would hope. At any rate, the eponymous members are all still teenagers and they were going to town on their instruments. It was totally a dance party, as captured here:

That man in blue up front is Joe Lean of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong and I am here to tell you, the boy likes to dance. Badly, but who cares when he's that cute?

"despite being a racist homophobe, he wasn't a bad guy."

It seems like every year at sxsw, I'll have a random encounter with someone which will determine the course of my entire week. For example, last year Ginger Fratelli randomly walked up to me in a bar (there's a punchline to that, somewhere) and then we ran into each other approximately 200 times in the week. Which was lovely for me, because, see below in re: scottish, bearded, ginger bassist. Especially scottish bearded ginger bassists who like to whisper things in my ear.

At latitude I randomly ran into various members of popup, and as I've just been texting a friend of mine who was at their Dallas show last night and is traveling to Austin even now, I think it's safe to assume they were my "jesus christ, this town is small" band of the year. Popup are everywhere; it's a testament to their Scottish charm that I'm not completely sick of them already. I don't know if I can say the same from their end, as I fear they were beset on all sides by myself and my vast network of friends, but if they're tired of us, they're hiding it with good grace. Extremely good grace in some cases, from what I hear.

the resentments ride high/but emotions won't grow

The last act of the evening was Alabama 3, who I guess sing the Sopranos theme song. I don't watch the Sopranos (a quote from our gingerbiscuit about the Sopranos pops into mind - "It is possible to be a decent, upstanding citizen in today's America. Obviously you have failed, but . . . ") so I had no idea who they were, but it was clear that I was the only one. They were okay, but to be honest I was a little thrown by the visual of a small Asian woman and a man who thinks he's Lou Reed singing country music. Also, there are clearly four people in Alabama 3:

They started things off with a cover of uncle Ian's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." I might have to legally purchase that as it's sort of my thing to have as many cover versions of that song as I can find. But for the most part, I wasn't all that impressed, so when Courtney showed up at quarter after one and suggested we call it a night, I concurred.

And so ends day one of SxSW, which is already fading from my memory. That's the after-effects of too much free beer.

xx erin

20 March 2008

"i'm going to listen to country music, the music of pain."

So it's come to my attention that for the past three or four days, I've been, quote, "a cranky, mercurial, emo bastard and would you just get over it already?" Which is totally true. And I hate being a cranky bastard, although it is my default setting, because mopey people are annoying and also because pouting gives you chin wrinkles.

But, internet, I just don't know what to do. My iPod is no help; it's on shuffle right now, and honest to god, these were the last five songs it played, IN A ROW: "An Olive Grove Facing the Sea," "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," "Candy Says," "No Name no 5" and "Cars and Telephones." I mean, COME ON. That is not cool, Kaiser 2: Electric Boogaloo. Not cool at all.

So I'm tasking you guys with cheering me up - youtube videos, links to more lolcastic stories of 90210 spinoffs, pictures of cats with stuff on them, whatever gets the job done. Cause no one should ever go through their day saying, without a hint of irony, "Only Morrissey knows how I feel."

xx erin

19 March 2008

hidden corners in drafty places

I really love discovering something new about something or someone that you thought you knew everything about. You know what I mean. Like you one day find out your best friend used to breed pygmy rabbits, or something, as a child, and all of a sudden she's become so much more interesting to you.

That happened to me last night, not with a person, but a place! Last night, Jerry, Jill and I went to see a band called popup (this blog will be inundated with hundreds of photos of them as I let their tour manager go off with my camera last saturday. obvs you can tell by this that I have an uncommon level of trust in and affection for these people, because my nikon is my baby.) at notsuoh, which is a Houston venue downtown. notsuoh's pretty awesome, because it's full of dark corners (for doing dark deeds?) and sometimes you can still get away with smoking in there. I don't smoke, actually, in general, but when I drink a lot, I always crave cigarettes, and it sucks to have to go outside to partake in my once-a-year vice. Also, if you play there, you get free beer all night. I don't play in a band*, but I imagine that's a pretty sweet deal.

But I thought I knew all I needed to know about notsuoh. Not so! While hanging out last night, someone discovered a secret building upstairs from the bar! We got in through a busted window and went up a steep staircase, and what greeted us was the most amazing place I've seen in a long time. There were rows and rows of shelves lined with really old shoes, a dusty out-of-tune piano and tons of spooky shadows and hidey holes. Broken furniture and old canvases scattered the floor, and you could hear the scurry of mice and rats as you walked along the groaning floors. Even better, we found really old bottles of beer, which we felt honor-bound to partake in (because rules for living state that anytime you find yourself in a dark, deserted building, you must consume whatever food or drink you find there. How else will the serial killer know that it's time for him to show up? Actually, I guess he's still not allowed to show up until some girl has sex there. Sex leads to death by serial-killer, everyone knows this. I didn't see a serial killer, in case you're wondering.). The whole place was super-spooky and awesome, and finding it was like having a shiny treasure that you can hug to yourself.

So that just goes to show me that you can find excitement and intrigue anywhere, even in people and places you thought you knew by heart. You only have to look.

* Yet. Of course I currently have about four musical projects in the works - Unexpected Bassist, The Funky Meercats, Soundcheck (where the only lyrics will be things like, "check, one. two. check. can I get a little more guitar in my monitor, please?" It's going to be GENIUS.) and of course my 32-member experiemental-rock band, Secret Baby and the Big-House Bruises, which is still recruiting members, if you'd like to sign up. I myself will be playing the fire extinguisher and wearing a funny hat.

18 March 2008

"they can fly so high and they can shit on your head."

No, don't worry, I'm not blogging about Kate Nash. Things have not got quite that dire yet. Actually, Meredith challenged me to write about something I don't like, and since I've been in a pretty good mood lately, I really had to struggle to think of something. Luckily for this blog entry, there's always my old standby: birds.

I effin' hate birds, guys. Like, on the list of Things Erin Hates, not even Hitler, or my emotionally manipulative ex-boyfriend, or, say, the Keane album come anywhere near the number one spot. That spot is reserved solely for birds, those disgusting, creepy, maniacal creatures.

Background: I used to like birds. Well, okay, that's a lie, I never liked them. I didn't want them as pets; I didn't want to watch them eat things from canisters hung on trees; and I didn't think they made particularly soothing Sesame Street residents. (I'm sorry, but am I the *only* person creeped out by the idea of a SIX FOOT TALL bird who is nosey and gets all up in everyone's shit all the damn time?) But I wasn't afraid of them, or anything. Until one memorable day at the beach, when I was tired and punchy from staying up late the night before to watch "The Birds." That's when MY LIFE CHANGED.

There was this kid at the beach, the son of my mom's friend, and he was tossing up mini-chips ahoy to the seagulls. Now, first of all, that is a perfectly good waste of mini-chips ahoy, which as we all know provide the perfect amount of dry, crumbly, quasi-cookie flavor for all your snacking needs. I don't like to see snacks being misused in any way; it's like seeing a Native American chief cry or something. It just makes me feel guilty for living. But also, seeing giant air-rats swoop down to munch on cookies is a little disconcerting. Like, why are birds so gung-ho about eating free food? Did they never get the freshman seminar about not accepting free drinks or food from a stranger? There could be roofies in those cookies!

(Note to self: check availability of patent for roofie cookie.)

Well, this kid (we'll call him Chris. Because that is his name.) noticed my discomfort at these greedy little winged bastards and decided to do what all boys do when they like a girl: torture me. He'd fling those little cookies at my head so that the birds would swoop down next to me to catch them. He was totally Hitchcock and I was his Tippi Hedren, just like in that Vanity Fair article that mere told me about last week. It was creepy and scary and I was very upset.

But, with the resilience of youth, I bounced back. I calmed down and forgot all about his little torture-show, and laid down on the beach to take a nap. I awoke to a strange feeling on my stomach, like a massage by a prozzie who has 3-inch long Lee press-on nails. What could it have been?

Yep. Birds. That little fucker Chris had put chips ahoy all over my stomach and the seagulls had LANDED ON ME to eat them off. I screamed and freaked out, of course, and have been terrified of birds ever since. Ask Courtney; I avoid them at all costs, even if it means I have to cross the street to get away from them.

So this is all to explain how much I hate birds. They are creepy and carry disease and stare at you with their beady little eyes. I mistrust them, and it'll be a happy day for me when they're all extinct.

xx erin

17 March 2008

iRobot Roomba

AKA, the best 300 bucks I've spent in a long, long time.

Years ago, whenever I'd go to Home Depot, I'd stop and watch an early generation of the Roomba do its thing. Corralled in a little carpeted pen, it would (seemingly) randomly roll around and suck up bits of paper that had been spread about. I always thought, "I'd like one of those one day, when they get a little cheaper and smarter."

I honestly don't know if they've gotten any cheaper, but Roombas have gotten a hell of a lot smarter and I have a higher salary now. So, since (a) I have a lot of cats with a lot of hair that tends to shed and quickly become gigantor dustbunnies, and (b) I am a very, very lazy person, I decided to invest in one.

Before I chose one, however, I researched the Roomba thoroughly first. I found a Roomba community full of fanatics who love to collect Roombas, dissect their Roombas to see how they work, and hack their Roombas to make Super!Roombas that will probably take over the earth one day. Like proto-Daleks. (I am so not kidding about that last bit.)

Anyway, their forum was extraordinarily helpful, and I decided to get the Roomba 550, which is sold at Costco (and perhaps other places, but it seems like a lot of retailers sell the 560, which is pretty much the same machine as the 550. I don't know what the differences are, if any - it's not immediately apparent.).

For those who don't know how a Roomba works, I'll try to explain. There are two brushes underneath the Roomba that rotate towards each other. There's probably some sucking involved too. Also, there's about 8 little brushes on a wheel that spin around. They're good for corners and baseboards and whatnot. The Roomba "sees" dirt through its 3 or 4 electronic eyes. I think. Uh, that's really all I know about how it does its job.

The 500 series is the newest generation of Roombas. The reasons I decided to get the 550 are:

  • comes with a docking station and these little things called Lighthouses, which act either as virtual walls (emits a beam the Roomba knows not to pass) or as a beacons that tell the Roomba to finish cleaning one room before it moves on to another
  • has a scheduler so you can program the Roomba to clean whenever you want (I will eventually use this feature but I haven't as of yet)

I've had my Roomba (which I would name if I was one of those people who names things like cars and laptops, but I'm not so I won't) for about a week now and so far I love it. It does a much better job than I would do with my vacuum and half-assed attitude. My floors are super-clean and kinda shiny. I wish I had some carpet so I could try it out on that, too (Roomba goes effortlessly between carpet and hardwood!).

Roomba does a great job on floors and baseboards and a decent job in corners. It goes under most furniture, too, which is fab because that's usually where the gigantor dustbunnies like to nest and clone themselves.

It looks like it's randomly moving about, but Roomba actually does some fancy mathing with its electronic eyes and figures out how it wants to clean the room. It slows down when it approaches most furniture and walls.

Fun Video!

When the Roomba is done cleaning, I just pull out the chamber where all the dirt and hair are stored and dump it in the trash. Voila.

There are a some things I'm still monitoring, which is why I haven't let it run on its own yet:

  • It tends to get caught up in the cord that runs from my electric mattress pad to the wall. At some point I believe that it will yank it out, so I need to figure out a way to get the cord off the floor. I will say, though, that the Roomba knows it's caught up in the cord and tries its darnedest to extricate itself and most of the time it succeeds.
  • It has a hard time seeing furniture that's less than a few inches wide (like my bar stool legs) and bangs them a bit
  • It got stuck under my TV cabinet once because the cabinet is not quite high enough to let the Roomba under it (which is good, because there are a lot of cords under it).
  • It ate a cat toy, which rattled around inside it until I removed it (my fault entirely).
  • I'm afraid the cats will vomit on the floor and the Roomba will try to clean the vomit, which would, I believe, kill the Roomba dead.

Speaking of cats, I was curious to see how my 3 cats would deal with having a robot around. The first night went about as expected, with a lot of emotional upset. But, less than a week later, the Roomba is part of the family, and nobody wants to kill it anymore, with the possible exception of Coco, who smacked it the other day while she thought the Roomba wasn't looking.

So, to sum up, Roomba = awesome. I'll bet your vacuum doesn't play a jaunty tune when it's done cleaning, does it?

Music Monday - Liam Finn

Can I even get away with Music Monday on the day after south by southwest? Isn't that a bit like a rehash? Well, whatever, I don't care. Let's talk Liam Finn, people, who's just released his first solo album.

Fact: I love Liam Finn. I love all Finns, I was a Crowded House fan, I've got this recording of Neil doing a cover of MJ's "Billie Jean" which is amazing and, also, covering Michael Jackson is the easiest way into my heart; basically the entire Finn family is one I want to hang out with and cook for. So you may think my love for Finn the Younger is due to his musical heritage, but I assure you that is not the case. Like snowflakes or the voices of young children at play or pure uncut columbian powder, my love for him is pure.

Why? Well, there are several reasons, which I will enumerate for you here:

1) The beard. I love beards, all scruffy and charming. I am extremely pro-facial hair on a man. And Liam's beard is amazing - both scruffy AND ginger! (Erin's Requirements for Hotness are as follows: bassist, Scottish, scruffy beard, Jewish, curly hair, ginger, and sarcastic. The more of those factors men hit, the more I'll want to shag them senseless. It is just my way. You can't fight nature.) Liam can turn his guitar into a bass and he has curly hair, so he's really hitting the upper registers on my attraction scale. He's sadly not Scottish, but he does have a charming kiwi accent, so that's something.

But, srsly, check this beard:

Don't you just sort of want to rub your fingers along his jaw and watch him purr like a cat?

2) His vocalist/harpist/munchkin basketball player, EJ, is amazing. I'm sort of in love with her as well, despite the fact that she doesn't have a beard. This is EJ:

Does she remind you a little of Summer Glau, or is that just me?

3) The music. (it does, eventually, come down to that. Even I am not so shallow.) Basically, he crafts songs using just his guitar and a lot of equipment. He lays down chords and then loops them and distorts them to build the rest of the song. Then he goes and bangs the hell out of the drums:

Also, all his equipment looks like it'd be really fun to play with, even though my brain gets crossed just thinking about all the pedals and monitors and stuff. (I would, however, have the perfect job as a roadie. I don't know shit about making music but I love running wires to things. It'd basically be like the fun of installing home stereo equipment, but as a JOB. I mean, I guess installing home stereo equipment is a job also, but that one doesn't have the same perks.) Look, he even has a joystick:

If you'd like to see exactly what I mean, check out this youtube video of Liam doing his thing:

Just ignore David making the same old lame joke about "giant cds." Shut up, Dave.

So, anyway, go out and buy his album, I'll Be Lightning.

I mean, look, he's JUMPING on the cover. Bearded AND jumping? Yes, please.

xx erin

16 March 2008

On this season of ER, there is a plotline about one of the doctor's college-aged son going crazy. That plotline really kicked into gear when the son turned up at County General. He'd driven cross country to tell his dad about a book, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. On the show, this was a sign of an early psychotic break. For me, it kinda made sense.

The Road is the best book that I have read in a long time. It's beautifully written in sparse, powerful prose with not one word out of place or unconsidered. There are some issues with the plot, but it's generally covered by the fable like nature of the story. However, I give you this recommendation with a health warning. This book has f'ed me up. It's the unrelentingly bleak story of a man and his son walking across post-apocalyptic America on the slimmest hopes, while trying to evade the rest of the survivors, who mostly want to eat them. It's grey, bleak with occasional flashes of the most shocking images- and the even more occasional flashes of humanity in the relationship and love between the man and the boy. A week and a half after finishing the book, I'll suddenly remember something from the novel, and then just despair at the pointlessness of it all for a short while.

At the moment I'm reading What is the What? by Dave Eggers, the fictionalised autobiography of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Coming after The Road, it almost counts as a light read, even with descriptions of the horrors faced by an eight year old caught up in a civil war. It is disappointing me- I love A heartbreaking work of staggering genius, and this is not striking the same stylistic high notes, or the same ability to portray tragedy.

Next book to be read is the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand's record of a year of food on the road. Fluff, happiness, food and skinny indie boys-phew. Unless something very dramatic happens during their world tour this should be just the cleansing sorbet of a book that I need at the moment.

Shameless TV Pimp: Gavin and Stacey

Because I am fortunate enough to be British and to live in Britain, no less, I get to see all the best TV shows before many of my anglically challenged friends. And it's taken a while, but after I pointed out that I was the first person to recommend shows such as Skins, Spaced and The Mighty Boosh, I like to think that my recommendations count, nowadays.

Today, I am here to talk to you about Gavin and Stacey.

Gavin and Stacey is a BBC3 show about a boy from Essex and a girl from Wales who are in love, even though they have never met. They have talked on the phone every day for six months, and this is their story. It's only six episodes, and it's not exactly high concept. But as anyone who has watched really good comedy knows, it doesn't have to be.

The relationship between the titular characters is very real and very sweet. The thing that stood out when watching this show was how contrived it wasn't. There are secrets and lies and conflict but the whole point of the show is that Gavin and Stacey are a good couple. They work through the obstacles. This is a show about them becoming a couple - it's not about them breaking up.

As with most good comedy shows, the best characters aren't the leads. Their respective best friends, Smithy and Nessa, routinely steal the show. But then, James Corden (Smithy) and Ruth Jones (Nessa) wrote the script, so perhaps that isn't accidental. They're both crude and awful people, but completely devoted to their best friends. Because although Gavin and Stacey is hilarious and slightly inappropriate at times, it's also very sweet and very believable.

Plus, the cast is awesome. Matthew Horne plays Gavin, and he's been in a bunch of stuff, most notably doing the Martin 'slightly bewildered' Freeman face in The Catherine Tate Show (and also Teachers, which he was much better in). I totally don't recognise Joanna Page who plays Stacey, but she's adorable. James Corden was in Teachers and The History Boys, and is currently making a name for himself by working the awards ceremonies and making epic acceptance speeches.

And Ruth Jones has been in Nighty Night and Little Britain, so she knows a thing or two about comedy. And then you've got Rob Brydon cropping up and being funny and Welsh, and Julia Davis mostly being awesome. And loads of, 'Hey, it's that guy!' ...s.

I don't want to say too much because even though it's the kind of show that you can't really spoil, because it's about the dialogue and the interaction more than what actually happens, I don't want to sit here and go through the plot. I want you to watch it. Because you'll totally love it. It's adorable.

And, let's face it. I'm normally right about these things.

15 March 2008

"oh, what, was he AMAZING? Was he the best thing you'd ever seen?"

Oh man, it's already the last day of south by, and trust me, I'm starting to feel the fatigue. I sort of shut down every year around this time - I'm not a people person by nature and more than three days in the constant company of thousands of people makes me edgy and exhausted. Today I'm going to try to stave off sxsw-related hatred by going to a house party in the afternoon and chilling out on the lawn. I need some space.

Yesterday's day show was Filter at Cedar Street Courtyard, and its hallmark was the resulting heat exhaustion and sunburn. Foolishly I'd had nothing to eat or drink all morning and was standing in a close space with the sun beating down. It was going to be tragic, there for a minute.

The party started off with Shout Out Louds, a swedish pop band I love. They're so much fun, but they were flagging a bit in the heat. As was I- I didn't have the energy to dance my little heart out like I wanted to. Los Campesinos! followed them up, and I can confirm that hot Texas sun + pale Welsh skin = a lead singer who is probably today in throes of agony. I felt so bad for him; his back was bright red by the end. But they were lots of fun, and I envy the collective wardrobe of all the female singers.

The Pigeon Detectives came next, which was a welcome relief as Lead Detective likes to spit and pour water on the crowd. Apart from having to be quite quick with hiding my camera, I was grateful. I just hope he doesn't have the syph or anything. But they were great; high energy and lots of fun. I did entertain a brief moment's fear that the lead singer was going to kill me - he spent lots of time hovering on the monitor in front of me and kept slinging the mic cord around. I envisioned all of us on the front row bearing slashes in the face from the cord, like an extra on the Whip It video.

The Wombats came next, which was great, because I love them. We caught them by happy accident last year and have been devotees ever since. I mean, they have a stuffed wombat, y'all. You can't beat that for cuteness.

Lightspeed Champion came next, and the adorable, delightful Emmy the Great was there as guest vocalist. I have such a girl crush on her. I want to put her in my pocket. LC were great as well - it was good to finally see him, since I wasn't able to see him at Antone's on Saturday.

Can you tell I'm tired? Every adjective is "great." I promise I'll do better when I actually do write-ups after this is all over.

Then, for the evening, I was meant to go to Stubb's for The Cribs/MGMT/Santogold. But that sxsw-fatigue kicked in and I just found myself unable and unwilling to stand up for five more hours in a crowd of thousands. So Courtney and I hied our way over to Wave for the NME showcase, and saw Make.Model, Fanfarlo and ox.eagle.lion.man. I also ran into Ed Larrikin again and listened to him bitch some more about the Pigeon Detectives. He really hates them. I'm thinking of starting a feud between the two.

More later as there's lines for the convention center laptops right now. When this is all over, I'm going to sleep till I'm dead.

xx erin

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ox.eagle.lion.man are Amish angst rock? This has been a weird week, man.

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Don't you reckon Dev gets hot in that hat?

14 March 2008

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All you need to know about The Wombats can be summed up aw this photo. They have a stuffed wombat on stage.

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This is the calmest that the Pigeon Detectives were for the whole set. I do hope that this man does not have the syph as i have tons of his sweat and spit on me.

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Los Campesinos! are even less used to the Texas sun than the Swedes are.

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I knew if I stuck with it I could see Shout Out Louds. It is mercilessly hot today. I fared only slightly better than the Swedes.

"this is rock and roll, but you have to clean up after yourself."

The achiness of my feet and random bruises cropping up are enough to remind me that sxsw is now half over. And what stories to tell.

Celeb sightings:

None which would interest you, unless you're a regular listener to NPR or the BBC.

"Look at this line. Maybe if I'd donated more to NPR, we could just get right in."

The NPR party with Jens Lekman, Yeasayer, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend was the most popular show of the day, so of course I was stuck in line for it. We finally got into the Parish around 1:30, missing Jens Lekman altogether. I was bereft. I wanted to hear more about how he couldn't be Nina's boyfriend because she has a girlfriend. Yeasayer came on and were much better than I'd expected them to be. I have their album but it hadn't really wowed me - live, they are 100x better. Bon Iver took the stage and broke my heart with his beautiful voice. And then Vampire Weekend came up to show us all that preps aren't as square as we all thought. Combine all this with free shiner and lone star and tiny little chopped beef sliders, and it was worth the wait.

"I'm sorry; I'm just talking bollocks to you in a Scottish accent.

Thursday night saw us dancing along to Popup, and only the second song dedication of my entire life, this one not performed in Authentic Gnome Voice. Daniel and Leah showed up as well, and it's lovely running into friends at sxsw. Makes it all seem more like home. After Popup, we went over to Latitude to catch Emmy the Great, who made me wistful and melancholy. For a brief moment in time, I longed to be in love with someone, just so I could share this overwhelming joy and heartbreak I felt with someone. Unfortunately, however, all I could find was a middle-aged scottish photographer with a Tilly and the Wall obsession, who talked my ear off for over an hour. We left to escape him and then walked to the Rio for the BBC6 showcase, and ran smack into a long line of obnoxious MGMT fans. It was badges only, so Courtney went in and I went to have a bit of a wander, ending up outside the Mohawk listening to Justin from Bon Iver's majestic voice floating through the street. Then I headed back over to the Rio (as everyone had left after MGMT got off stage) and saw I Was A Cub Scout and The Pan I Am. IWACS were fun and a good time. The Pan I Am is . . . wow. I just . . . I don't . . . yeah. I really can't say anything about The Pan I Am because I don't think there are words in the English language to describe what went on on that stage (and on the floor, and halfway onto each). I've never feared for my life so much as I did the second Ed Larrikin locked eyes with me. I honestly thought he might try to consume my soul.

And then, running into him after the show, he was as delightful as can be! Overly invested in high fives ("high five, Jane! high five!" has already entered Courtney's and my lexicon) and harboring an intense hatred for the Pigeon Detectives, but charming. I was so very confused. I still am. I do know that if you are poor, Ed Larrikin will give you two dollars not to see The Pigeon Detectives, so keep that in mind if ever you find yourself needing a bit of extra cash.

Today is The Wombats, Lightspeed Champion and (yes, Ed Larrikin, keep your two dollars!) The Pigeon Detectives at Cedar St, and Santogold, MGMT and The Cribs tonight at Stubb's. If I can get in.

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I used to think that Ed Larrikin was a fun wood nymph. Now I know that he is a tranny vampire who will eat your soul.

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Directly after this photo was taken, the lead pies from I Was a Cub Scout dove into the shallow fountain at The Rio.

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Listening to Emmy the Great puts one in a bit of a melancholy state. Her lush and tender voice makes you want to be in love with someone, somewhere, so you can share it with them.

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Maybe you guys are wondering why i keep posting crap photos. Apparently the blog won't accept regular texts. This is popup, who I was delighted to run into again this year. If you live in Texas, check their myspace, as they are touring all month.

13 March 2008

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This is Vampire Weekend and they live up to the hype.

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This is the line to get into the npr party today. Do you think, perhaps, that headliners Vampire Weekend are just a bit popular?

sxsw highlights, day one

Celebrity spottings:

- Elijah Wood, while we were checking in and picking up badges/wristband. He is very short, but seems totally normal. He was getting his own badge; he didn't have an assistant doing it for him.

- John Norris interviewing Lightspeed Champion on the streets. John Norris is, in fact, not Skeletor, as I had always previously assumed. He's actually quite nice and friendly.


- LIAM FINN. I can't EVEN, you guys. Ugh, so amazing. For those who don't know him, go to youtube and type in Liam Finn + Letterman to get an idea of what his set is like. He uses loops to build a bass line and a guitar lead, and then goes to fucking town on the drums. His vocalist, EJ, is completely adorable and was wearing a pair of red sequined converse, like if Dorothy played basketball.

- Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. I got DENIED from the Antone's showcase, so I did what you're supposed to do at sxsw - went to see a bunch of bands I'd never heard of. They were all good, but these guys were the standout. They're a family of five - the kids are only 14, 17 and 19 - and they play balls-out Americana music. They're all so talented and their music makes you want to dance your face off. If you get a chance to see them, do so.

Something funny:

- Lightspeed Champion's interview question: "Are you from Brooklyn and, if so, are you Vampire Weekend?"

- running into the members of Popup, a Scottish group I saw last year, and them being chuffed that their showcase was highlighted on my schedule. I love people who are easy to please.

That's all for tonight, guys. Keep tuning in for crappy cell-phone picture updates tomorrow, when I see: Shout Out Louds, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Popup, The Pan I Am, and more.

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You may not be able to see this very well but this is Kitty Daisy and Lewis. They're a family (that's the mom on the double bass and the dad plays guitar) and they play rockabilly. But not in a douchy hipster way. Just in an awesome, dance your face off way. I highly recommend.

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This is The Young Republic. There are approximately 12 of them. Although they are dressed like characters in a spaghetti western, I recommend them.

12 March 2008

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Fact. Liam Finn is fucking AMAZING. I can't even. As I said to his vocalist EJ (herself also amazing and wearing red sequined cons), everyone else will have to work extra hard to top them.

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Phosphorescent at mohawk. Alt-country meets prog. Drunk fan boys accosting the amps. Very scary.

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Johnny Flynn at mohawk. Vibrant traditional music with a rock vibe.

south by so wasted, here we come

I'm off to sxsw today, so you won't see much by way of essay-type updates for the next few days, although I am going to endeavor to do a daily wrap-up, if I have the energy/sobriety to do so. But all is not lost! I've enabled mobile updating to this blog, so expect several short posts a day about the bands I've seen or the musicians I've accidentally insulted, or any rubbish celebrities I come across. (As I was telling Mere yesterday, I'm terrible at spotting actually awesome celebrities. I always run into the lame ones. Last year, it was Perez, Tom from MySpace and Joe from Girls Gone Wild. Ugh. If only I'd run into Harry Knowles, they could have formed the Douchenozzle Barbershop Quartet.)

So keep checking back throughout the day, readers, and experience the joys and agony of sxsw yourself. Through the internet.

11 March 2008

South by Southwest Preview

Erin has pressed me into service to write an entry about bands I'm looking forward to seeing at South by Southwest, which begins...tomorrow, actually. So here, in no particular order, are four of them.

The Pan I Am - Project of Ed Larrikin, formerly of Larrikin Love. The Pan I Am takes Larrikin's penchant for writing slightly twisted story-songs and transposes it from Larrikin Love's indie rock backbeat to a surreal, but still melodic backdrop of electronic sounds. Little known fact: The Pan I Am was Larrikin's second choice for a band name after record label execs declared his first choice, "The Pot I'm Not," to be "too negative" and "not fun enough." See also Vampire Weekend's original name, "Vampire Monday Morning Staff Meeting."

Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong – It’s just so fun to say! Jing Jang Jong! JING JANG JONG! Little known fact: On his rider, Joe Lean demands his dressing room be stocked with Jenga and the collected works of Jung.

Los Campesinos! - How can you not like a band that's so obviously excited about their music that they must append exclamation points to everything they do? In fact, I’ve started doing this to add excitement to my own life. You! Me! Doing the dishes! Doesn’t that sound better? Little known fact: In their spare time, Los Campesinos work to foment revolution among the underclasses in South America, using a combination of Marxist theory and synthesizers.

Hanson – To maintain my indie cred, I must point out that I was compelled to list Hanson by Erin. You see, over the past few months, we’ve become addicted to the Hanson Secrets LiveJournal community, watching it as if it was some sort of soap opera. I’m just waiting for a secret to show up with the Evil Hanson Twin. The lure of seeing the players in this little drama in the flesh is simply too strong to ignore. Plus, I can totally see if that one Hanson wife is as big of a whore as everyone says she is. Little known fact: The Hanson brothers are no longer 12.

Note: Some facts in this post may be complete lies.

sake + vodka = dodginess

Or so my British counterparts would say, at any rate. Last night, my friends and I went to Warehouse to see the amazing Back Door Slam and started our evening with three dollar sake carafes at Azuma downtown. This was a mistake. Not the band, obviously, or even the sake, but rather the cheerful followup of lots of vodka on a work night, when I had to wake up for work in 5 hours.

My friends, I am hung to the over. I am suffering particularly cruelly because I'm unable to participate in Erin's Hangover Cure, as it is not a weekend.

Erin's Hangover Cure is as follows: Step One: three tylenol with two ice-cold glasses of water. Step Two: Fix first of two mimosas (hair of the dog + Vitamin C!). Step Three: with mimosa in hand, step into blistering hot shower and stand under hot water, while drinking mimosa, until mimosa is finished. Step Four: consume the second mimosa along with two breakfast tacos (my perfect breakfast taco is nothing more or less than: potatoes, chorizo, mushrooms and cheese. No egg, but that's just me.). Conventional wisdom dictates that you do not make these breakfast tacos yourself, but go to the nearest greasy taco cart and order them. Step Five: two hour nap. et voila! I wake up feeling completely refreshed and totally ready to start my day around 3 pm.

Unfortunately today I've had to suffer through work and flourescent glare. Not conducive to working off a hangover of any kind. Which is why tonight I'll be going for Hangover Cure #2 - three tylenol pm and bed by 8:30 at night.

Tell me, internet, what's your hangover cure? Sharing is caring, folks.

10 March 2008

The most amazing thing I've seen today, by erin e.

Wow. Do you know how, if you're really lucky, you'll have one or more very good friends who know your SOUL and always know the right things to say or do to make you smile? Well, I'm totally lucky, cause I have like 30 of these friends, but today's Honorable Mention goes to fellow-likepenguins-contributor Courtney, who just emailed me the most AMAZING youtube video I HAVE EVER SEEN. Like, there are no words at all, guys. You just have to see it:

Sound is not necessary; just imagine a dramatic score to some epic romantic film like The Notebook, or something.

In other news, today is Int'l Day of Awesomeness (mascot: Chuck Norris), so congratulate yourself on being AWESOME.

sxsw schedule, take 12, or "okay you guys, I really mean it this time."

Right, so. I think I've got it all settled now, barring any last-minute changes or cancellations - AHEM, Robots in Disguise. I'll not be forgiving you anytime soon.



Austinist/Gothamist day party - A Place to Bury Strangers, Patterns is Movement, Liam Finn(!!), Shearwater, if I can get to that.

donewaiting.com - AA Bondy @ 3:20pm, only if I can get back in time for Liam Finn.


8 pm Simian Mobile Disco @ Antone's
9 pm These New Puritans@ Antone's
10 pm Lightspeed Champion @ Antone's
11 pm Sons & Daughters @ Antone's
1 am The Duke Spirit @ Buffalo Billiards



NPR Music day party @ The Parish

1:30pm Shout Out Louds
2:15 pm Jens Lekman
3:30 pm Yeasayer
4:15 pm Bon Iver
5 pm Vampire Weekend

5:45 pm Fader @ The Fort's Tribute to Lou Reed


8 pm Popup @ Habana Annex
9:30 pm Yo La Tengo @ AMH
11:00 pm My Morning Jacket @ AMH
12:00 am I Was A Cub Scout @ The Rio
1 am The Pan I Am @ The Rio



The Wombats
Lightspeed Champion
The Pigeon Detectives all @ Filter Party @ Cedar St.

5:30 pm Carbon/Silicon - Free YR Radio Street Broadcast

7:oo pm Duffy @ Fader @ the Fort


8 pm The Ting Tings @ Stubb's
9 pm Santogold @ Stubb's
10 pm MGMT @ Stubb's
11 pm Dr Dog @ Cedar Door
12 am Tapes n' Tapes @ Cedar Door
1 am Nada Surf @ Cedar Door



Everyone @ Mess w/ Texas Party

3 pm Scissors for Lefty @ Beauty Bar
5 pm Holy Fuck @ Beauty Bar


8 pm Oppenheimer @ Emo's Main
9 pm Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong @ Emo's Main
10 pm The Victorian English Gentlemens Club @ The Rio

And THEN my most-wanted act, Robots in Disguise, cancelled their sxsw, appearance, so I have a hole in my schedule/heart. So I'm trying to decide between

1 am Sea Wolf @ Buffalo Billiards
1 am British Sea Power @ Maggie Mae's
1 am HANSON @ Cedar Door.

I mean, can I really pass that opportunity up? I don't think I can, y'all.

- - - - - -

If you're going to sxsw, and we're crossing paths sometime this week, let me know!

07 March 2008

the world wide web

Can you tell I have no time to write this week? Work insists on actually being work (what?) and because Comcast is stupid, my internet connection at home is knocked out anytime there's a strong breeze.

So to tide you over, here are some things out and about on the internet:

courtesy of my buddy Jacob, we have Catherine Hicks Online. Catherine Hicks was in several movies and shows, but you know her from 7th Heaven, the Beast That Would Not Die. Join us as we discover her feelings about 9/11, old people and National Housekeeper's Day. Sure, it's doesn't reach the opus that is MelanieGriffith.com, but Catherine does what she can.

Stuff White People Like. Are you trying to befriend that special white person in your office or classroom? This handy guide will tell you everything that white people like, so that you too can become A Friend of a White Person. Meredith sent this to me a couple of weeks ago and I check it faithfully. So far, with the exception of vegetarianism, I completely fit the bill. So embarassing.

Enjoy your Friday, internets!

05 March 2008

pin pricks, needle sticks

Someday, when I'm not still suffering from Post-Traumatic Caucus Disorder, I'll explain how I managed to get myself elected as a precinct chair when all I wanted to do was sit back and watch democracy in action. However, I'm entirely too stressed out about my new duties to discuss anything remotely resembling the Texas Democratic Primary. So instead I'm going to write about something that is totally soothing and a great stress reliever for me: giving blood.

No, it's totally true! I love to give blood. Where else outside of kindergarten can you just randomly lay down for twenty minutes while squeezing a stress ball and then get rewarded with cookies and juice? It's basically like kindergarten all over again, except with a large needle stuck in your vein, draining your life source.

Plus, there's just all that blood neatly filling up those cute plastic bags. I feel like the inspiring guest star of a hit hospital drama every time I look down at the blood filling the little bag. Like, my character would probably be named Cassandra, or some other painfully obvious name, and I'd tell the handsome surgeon that he should make a play for the shy but beautiful nurse before it's TOO LATE, and he ends up sad and alone in a hospital bed dying from the avian flu and/or a large injury caused by accidentally falling on top of a long piece of re bar. And the entire hospital would be warmed by my presence, and would mourn my passing, the death of an old woman they'd never before met and only treated for a few hours, and then they'd learn to embrace life and celebrate over beers at the local bar, which is always just across the street. I don't know about you guys, but I've never been to a hospital that's just across the street from a bar. If I knew of one, I'd totally go there, cause I bet that's where the phlebotomists hang out.

I used to want to be a phlebotomist in college. It seemed like the perfect job; you got to wear a lab coat with a sassy button that claimed people should not mess with you cause you had a needle, and there are all those stickers, plus you get to know about the sexual deviancy of everyone you meet! And let's not forget the free cookies and juice! Also, just the name alone is fun. PHLEBOTOMY. Doesn't that sound fun? Plus, I just really like blood. Not in a gross, sexual way or a weird, Dexter Morgan way (although you have to admit, if all serial killers were as awesome as Dex, this world would be so much more fun and hot), but I just like looking at it. It's always so deep and rich looking, like really cool paint, and the way it fl- I'll stop now. I don't want to end up being locked in the loony bin.

Anyway, my phlebotomy dreams were dashed when I found out that they don't make that much money. There's only so far free cookies and the power to poke people can stretch.

But I still maintain that giving blood is pretty awesome. You get to help save a life, you get to lay down on a cot for no reason at all in the middle of the day, and you get free cookies and juice. Plus, if you're lucky, someone else in the blood center will get lightheaded and dizzy from giving blood, and sometimes they're bigger/stronger than you, and you get to feel quietly smug that you're a super human for whom a pint of blood is merely a drop in the bucket. I am totally that superhuman. Suck on it, lesser mortals.

04 March 2008

Things (I Did In February) That I Love

Right, so I'm finally getting around to my February-in-review, only 4 days late. February's a great month: it's short (even when it's been extended, as it was this year), there's still pretty good weather in Texas, and it's Black History Month, which means that I'm more likely to find a James Baldwin display at Barnes and Noble. My February was pretty jam-packed with both change and fun: I moved offices, bought a car, and had some great nights out with my Houston friends.

I started off the month participating in Meredith and Matt's TV Marathon Extravaganza. Along with Mandy and Bill, we each picked three hours of one tv show to watch, and came up with food and drink which tied into what we were watching. It was a lazy, drunken, gluttonous good time! Matt and I hosted our shows on Friday night. Matt decided to show Smallville (which basically everyone I know watches, but I don't, because the only character I like is Lex, and he's not naked enough) and made awesome Red Kryptonite drinks (raspberry lemonade with a healthy splash of vodka) and the best chicken and dumplings I've ever tasted. Those chicken and dumplings were such tasty business, I swear. After watching four episodes and following the rules of the drinking game (I won't go into them in detail, but suffice it to say that one rule is drink anytime someone says "Clark." Have you ever watched Smallville? Watch one ep and get back to me on the relative state of your liver.), we were pretty trashed, but we still had enough in us for more.

I showed The X-Files, obviously, because I will take any opportunity to push that show on an unwilling public. In this case, though, everyone was perfectly willing because Matt, Mere and Mandy are all watching the show from the beginning. It's so cute! They still think everything's going to make sense! Anyway, for my part, I served individual sweet potato pies (because we watched "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'") and make-your-own dessert monsters, in honor of "Post-Modern Prometheus." I had marshmallows and chocolate chips and coconut and all sorts of black-and-white edible fun. All our monsters were totally cute, too. And very tasty.

And in honor of The X-Files, Rupert, Mandy's dog, wore his bumblebee outfit. Thing I like? Dressing up dogs.

Isn't he totally cute?

On Saturday it was Mere and Mandy's turn. Meredith decided to show the first four hours of Twin Peaks, which was an excellent idea not only because we all love Twin Peaks, but because she had the most amazing food to go with it. She ordered strawberry rhubarb pie from House of Pies (probably the best place to eat in Houston. Its name says it all. IT IS A HOUSE OF PIES.) and make little sugar cookies in the shape of Douglas firs. There was a cheese log in honor of the Log Lady (someday my Log is going to have something to say about this cheese log!), and swedish fish (not in the percolator.) But best of all was Jerry's Perfect Sandwich. Remember when he first makes his entrance and he's going on and on about this perfect sandwich made with brie and butter on a baguette? Well, Mere decided to try it out, and let me tell you, Jerry may be sort of a crazy playboy who makes tragic sartorial choices, but the man knows his sandwiches. That was the best sandwich I've ever had, and I'm a girl who's eaten a lot of sandwiches.

Mandy wrapped things up with a marathon of Arrested Development, which included my favorite ep of the series, "Pier Pressure." And that's why you don't teach your kids lessons! She made Carl Weathers' Stew (I love stew) and we had Unlimited Juice and Mandy made little chocolate conversation hearts that spelled out "MAYBE TONIGHT." All in all, it was the best way to spend a weekend - vegging out, eating great food, getting drunk and watching some of my favorite television shows. And Smallville.

Then that next day, we all met for brunch at Hobbit Cafe. I love Hobbit Cafe - it's quaint and charming, and they give you enough food to feed an orc. We all looked super swank and uptown, see?

There's Matt, doing his best suave hipster impression. He's really good at it!

There's Mere, looking dreamy and hip.

And of course Mandy and m'elle got on like hotcakes, being as they both posess approximately the same level of maturity.

Speaking of the offspring, she's started showing an interest in cooking. So I tricked her out with an apron and hat. Doesn't she look professional?

So far she can cook grilled cheese and green beans with shallots and mushrooms. And she can make coffee, which I actually can't (I don't drink it so I never bothered to learn how to make it. I barely function as an adult, let me assure you), so I think soon the student shall become the master.

But I'm not ready to be stripped of my title of domestic diva just yet. People who work with me have a lot of hardships, the main one being that I'm a cranky bastard 98% of the time, so I try to make it up to them on any holiday occassion. This year for Valentine's Day I made little gift tins - red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and candied flowers, chocolate-dipped pink ribbon shortcake cookies, and of course the traditional gift of seasonal Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Nothing says "I love you" like peanut butter and chocolate wrapped in pink foil.

Don't they look cheerful and fun?

They were delicious, too, if I must say. Man, I wish I worked with me.

The rest of February sped right on by, filled with a lot of overtime work and too much shopping at Target. And then, last week, tons of great things happened! I got a raise! I bought a car! I went to Warrens!

That last bit, at least, has photographic evidence as well. See?

Sarah came to town! There she is with Mere, probably showing her a photo of Ray. Because as I once pointed out, and Sarah confirmed, the ratio of photos in which Ray appears to the ones in which he is absent is about 15 to 1. Sometimes he isn't even in the vicinity of the camera - perhaps he is several hundred miles away - but he still manages to sneak into frame. See?

It's just weird.

Matt learned a little something from Ray, because he managed to slide into this blurry shot without even noticing.

Jesus. What's so funny, me?

Sarah took over my camera at one point and Annie Liebowitzed Mere and I into being awesome photog subjects.

I mean, you can just SEE the emotion pouring off of us. We're so EDITORIAL. Sarah is like Mr Jay, only less orange, and she totally gets us to be the fiercest we can be. Tyra will love us!

The only thing to put a slight damper on the evening was that some dude in cargo shorts totally tried to hit on my by way of lecturing me about politics. A tip for all you fellas out there: I know women are hard to talk to, or whatever, especially if they're in a group of friends, but the way NOT to make them all fluttery and weak-in-the-knees is to tell them they don't understand the welfare system because they're too young. I'm just sayin'.

And although, technically, it happened in the month of March, I must give special shout-outs to last night, when I randomly caught Emma on tv. Gah, Jeremy Northam, why are you so hot? PLEASE SCOLD ME, MR KNIGHTLEY. (In case you don't know, 90% of all heterosexual females lust after either Mr Darcy as played by Colin Firth or Mr Knightley as played by Jeremy Northam, or both. In my case, it's both. In an attempt to woo literary-minded females, many men will try to adopt either a Darcy or Knightley demeanor. This is a mistake, and will cause romantic failure nearly every time, because the simple truth of the matter is that we won't stand for anyone snubbing us at a dance, trying to ruin our sister's happiness or being kind of creepily older than us and scolding us all the time unless they look like, and have the charm of, Firth or Northam. Unfair, perhaps, but this is just the way of life, men. Don't go around telling us "badly done" unless you're prepared to back that up with aristocratic good looks, a charming accent and the tendency to fiddle a bit with your waistcoat while you struggle in vain to hide your undying love and affection for us.)

March brings us ever closer to my encroaching old age, but before that happy time, we'll be bringing this blog coverage of Austin's annual South by Southwest Music Festival. Courtney and I will be posting lots of music-related entries over the next few weeks, so if that isn't your cup of tea, try to hang in there. But we are going to do our level best to find a member of Hanson and ask what the deal is with hanson secrets, so watch out for that.

xx erin